McLaren-Mercedes driver, David Coulthard set the quickest time today [Tuesday] at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, beating Marc Gene, who was next quickest by over a second.

DC's best was a 1 minute 15.266 seconds, easily faster than the best time set yesterday by Juan Pablo Montoya, a 1m 17.793s. Today, JPM was fourth quickest.

Nick Heidfeld was third 'the meat in the WilliamsF1 sandwich' and the German had another positive day in the new Sauber-Petronas C22, completing 81 laps, the most of any one driver at the track.

"This has been another very good day for me," said Heidfeld. "The car ran like clockwork. I am really enjoying myself adapting to its characteristics which are different to the C21's."

Toyota's Olivier Panis was fifth, also running with a 2003 car, namely the TF103. His best was around two tenths slower than JPM, while his new team-mate, 2002 CART champion, Cristiano da Matta, had to settle for a best of 1m 19.092s. The Brazilian was running with a TF102B and he completed 38 laps, two seconds off Panis and four seconds off pace setter, DC.

"It is good to be back in Barcelona, but it has been a day of mixed fortunes for us," noted da Matta. "We set a very packed schedule today with many laps planned. In the end, I managed just 38 laps, even though we had no major problems."

McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz was sixth with Heinz-Harald Frentzen seventh and da Matta eighth. Frentzen was component testing using last year's Sauber - the C21.

Olivier Beretta was ninth and slowest running with BMW WilliamsF1. He completed 53 laps, his best a 1m 19.160s.

Tim Newton, test team manager for BMW WilliamsF1, told the outfits official website: "Again we started with a very cold day, the track temperature was as low as minus 3?C when we began at nine this morning. The track temperature did get up to 15 ?C by the end of the session.

"Olivier Beretta has joined the test team driving a FW24D 01 for engine work and successfully completed the mileage task of 250km. It was the first time that he had driven that car and on dry track conditions. Juan was focusing on brake and tyre work alongside Marc who also concentrated on tyres and chassis work. We are expecting a similar weather forecast tomorrow."

Testing continues tomorrow [Wednesday], when the new BAR Honda 005 is expected to be out on track.

Leading times (14 January) - Barcelona:

1. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1m 15.266s 61 laps**
2. Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1m 16.568s 69 laps**
3. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1m 16.688s 81 laps*
4. Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1m 16.828s 39 laps**
5. Olivier Panis Toyota 1m 17.066s 34 laps**
6. Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 17.307s 48 laps**
7. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 1m 17.909s 68 laps*
8. Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m 19.092s 38 laps**
9. Olivier Beretta Williams-BMW 1m 19.160s 53 laps**

* - denotes Bridgestone tyres
** - denotes Michelin tyres.

Weather / Track Conditions: Dry and cold.

 

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